Music Education Research | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Music Education Research

Music education research. The disciplined inquiry into the learning and teaching of music. The various modes of inquiry - descriptive, experimental, historical, and philosophical - are determined to a great extent by the methodologies and techniques employed.
The disciplined inquiry into the learning and teaching of music. The various modes of inquiry - descriptive, experimental, historical, and philosophical - are determined to a great extent by the methodologies and techniques employed. In Canada, research activities fall into two broad categories: 1) projects conducted by faculty members in universities (music or education departments) or other post-secondary institutions; 2) supervised theses undertaken by students in graduate degree programs. Though to a large extent still in its infancy, music education research increased considerably in the late 1970s and 1980s. Attendant upon this increase was the formation of the Canadian Music Research Council (CMRC) and the introduction of graduate programs in many Canadian universities, most notably those in which a thesis is a requirement for completion of the degree; graduate programs in music education at McGill University, University of Alberta, University of Western Ontario, and University of Victoria serve as examples.

In 1978 the CMRC sponsored a research session as part of the thirteenth congress of ISME held at the University of Western Ontario. That university was also the venue for several research symposia in music education (1976, 1977, 1979, 1981) under the chairmanship of H.E. Fiske; these symposia attracted international and Canadian scholars and provided encouragement and interaction at a time when research in music education was starting in Canada. In 1979 McGill University hosted a symposium on school music administration and supervision, and in 1988 Laval University held a colloquium on music education research. The francophone community has been well served by the periodical Recherche en éducation musicale au Québec, launched in 1982 under the auspices of the School of Music at Laval U; Raymond Ringuette became its editor in 1988.

Computer technology has had a major impact on music education research. Some universities have established special facilities, laboratories, or institutes: the School Music Research Laboratory of McGill University organized by Joel Wapnick in 1979, a computer data base of 'Theses in Music at Canadian Universities' developed at the University of Western Ontario by George Proctor and J. Paul Green, the University of Victoria Research Laboratory under the direction of Dale McIntosh, and the University of Western Ontario Digital Sound Laboratory established by Peter Clements and Robert Wood. The Canadian Music Education Research Centre was created at the University of Toronto in 1989; its research associates include members from universities across Canada. Lee R. Bartel was appointed its first director. The focal point for research activities, however, continues to be the special sessions scheduled within the biennial conferences of CMEA. Much of the research activity among music educators in Quebec has been generated at Laval University, largely as a result of the efforts of Ringuette.

Canadian music educators have explored a wide range of specialized interests, including the psychology of music, the history of music education in Canada, and the history and literature of musical and/or pedagogical practices, including experimental studies in curriculum and instruction. Frequently music education research has been designed for the testing of methods and materials in classroom situations. The following have published works based on their research interests: John Crozier (experimental aesthetics), Harold E. Fiske (musical cognition), Robert Walker, Joel Wapnick, Robert Wood (perception), Margery Vaughan, Ian Bradley (aspects of creativity), Estelle Jorgensen (supervision and instruction), Barbara Cass-Beggs (Canadian folksongs), Raymond Ringuette (music in early childhood education), Diana Brault, J. Paul Green, Dale McIntosh, Campbell Trowsdale, Nancy Vogan, and Paul Woodford (history of music education).

Harold Fiske and Robert Walker have given papers at research seminars sponsored by ISME. The University of Victoria hosted the ISME research seminar held in 1984. Fiske served 1986-90 as a member of the ISME research commission and became its chairman 1990-2. Funding for research in music education has been facilitated mainly through programs of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Otherwise, funding has been piecemeal: universities support individual faculty members, and several provincial agencies sponsor educational projects directly applicable to instructional practice. Information about Canadian studies can be obtained from the Music Division, NL of C, through indexes of the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) in Washington, DC (to which the major universities have on-line access), and from the CMRC.

See also Ethnomusicology, Musicology, Psychology of music, and School music.


Vaughan, M.M. 'Dimensions of music research in Canada,' CME, vol 16, Fall 1974

Cooper, E.A. 'The role of research in the implementation of school music innovations,' CME, vol 16, Summer 1975

Fiske, Harold. 'The role of research in music education,' CME, vol 17, Winter 1976

Trowsdale, Campbell. 'The case study in music education research,' CME, vol 18, Spring 1977

Green, J. Paul. 'Doctoral programs in music: reform or rhetoric,' CME, vol 20, Winter 1979

Walker, Robert. 'Research relationships between universities and public school systems,' CME, vol 26, Dec 1985

McIntosh, Dale. 'Research at the University of Victoria,' BC Music Educator, vol 29, Spring 1986

Roberts, Brian. 'The anomaly of Canadian music education research,' Canadian J of Research in Music Education, CME supplement, vol 27, May 1986

Clingman, Allen. 'The first fifteen years (or how the music research began),' CME, vol 27, Jun 1986

Bradley, Ian. 'Canadiana: a bibliography of unpublished graduate research,' CME, vol 28, Sep 1986

McIntosh, Dale. 'Recent graduate research at the University of British Columbia,' BC Music Educator, vol 30, Fall 1986

Clingman, Allen. 'Completed graduate theses and dissertations, 1967-present,' BC Music Educator, vol 31, Spring 1989

Ringuette, Raymond. 'Presentation des travaux de recherche en éducation musicale réalisés a l'Ecole de musique de l'Université Laval,' Recherche en éducation musicale au Québec, 8, Jan 1989

Fiske, Harold. Music and Mind: Philosophical Essays on the Cognition and Meaning of Music (Lewiston, NY, 1990)

Bartel, Lee. 'Introducing the Canadian Music Education Research Centre,' CME, vol 32, Oct 1990

Peters, Diane E. Canadian Music and Music Education: An Annotated Bibliography of Theses and Dissertations (Lanham 1997)

Bowman, Wayne D. 'Music education and post-secondary music studies in Canada,' Canadian University Music Review, vol 21:1, 2000

Hanley, Betty, and Roberts, Brian A., ed. Looking Forward: Challenges to Canadian Music Education (Toronto 2000)


Canadian Music Research Council. Music Research News. Bulletins 1-13, 1976-83

CMEA Canadian J of Research in Music Education, CME supplement, vol 27, no. 3, 1986

CME. Research edn, vol 30, May 1989 (supplement comprising papers from the ISME research seminar, Melbourne, Australia, 1-7 Jul 1988); other research edns include vol 30, Jan 1989; vol 31, Sep 1989; vol 32, Dec 1990

Recherche en éducation musicale au Québec. School of Music, Laval University, vol 1, Sep 1982 - vol 10, Jan 1991

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